Microsoft Security Essentials 2.0 vs. BitDefender, Kaspersky, Symantec, AVG, Avira, McAfee

Microsoft Security Essentials 2.0 delivered a less than stellar performance in the latest round of testing from AV-Test.

Despite being one of the products that was certified by the German antivirus testing firm, MSE 2.0 barely did so, with one of the lowest scores among the security products tested.

Microsoft Security Essentials 2.0 continues to deliver a top user experience, and earned a massive 5.5 out of 6.0 possible in terms of usability.

But I have yet to meet users that have any complaints related to the usability, performance, or reliability of MSE 2.0. In fact, I’ve been using this product since Beta and it always performed flawlessly.

MSE 2.0 also has one of the lowest false positive rates out of any security solutions, detecting erroneously only a single piece of legitimate software during three months of testing.

When it comes down to cleaning malware and repairing an infected computer, Microsoft Security Essentials 2.0 fairs a tad worse. The overall score in this regard is just 3.5, with the AV having problems removing rootkits and other stealth malware.

But MSE 2.0’s lowest score by far is associated with the protection component. The main issues encountered are related to blocking of 0-day malware, as well as stopping malicious code on or after execution.

In all fairness, Microsoft Security Essentials is a free security product, but compared to previous MSE results from AV-Test, the latest scores are on a downward trend.

“During January, February and March 2011 we continuously evaluated 22 security products using their default settings. We always used the most current publicly-available version of all products for the testing,” AV-Test noted.

“They were allowed to update themselves at any time an query their in-the-Cloud services. We focused on realistic test scenarios and challenged the products against real-world threats. Products had to demonstrate their capabilities using all components and protection layers.”

By comparison with MSE 2.0, BitDefender: Internet Security Suite 2011 scored 6.0 for protection, 4.0 for repair, and 5.5 for usability. Other results include: Kaspersky: Internet Security 2011 5.5, 4.5, and 4.0; Symantec: Norton Internet Security 2011 5.5, 5.0 and 4.5; AVG: Internet Security 10.0 5.0, 4.0 and 4.5; Avira: Premium Security Suite 10.0 4.0, 3.5, and 4.0; Avast: Free AntiVirus 5.0 and 6.0 3.5, 2.5 and 5.5; Trend Micro: Titanium Internet Security 2011 3.5, 3.5, and 5.5; McAfee: Total Protection 2011 3.0, 2.0 and 3.5.

“During the 1st quarter of 2011 we have tested 22 security products in the areas protection, repair and usability. The "Protection" covers static and dynamic malware detection, including real-world 0-Day attack testing. In case of "Repair", we check the system disinfection and rootkit removal in detail,” AV-Test said.

“The "Usability" testing includes the system slow-down caused by the tools and the number of false positives. A product has to reach at least 11 out of 18 possible points in order to receive a certification. 17 products have fulfilled our requirements and received an AV-Test certificate.”

Microsoft Security Essentials (MSE) 2.0 RTM is available for download here.

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